Governor Walker’s Pro-Sprawl Agenda
It was clear that the election of Scott Walker to the Governorship was going to negatively impact transit as well as other services in Milwaukee, but beyond the ‘fiscal’ matters the agenda he has laid out goes far behind what even we predicted. Hidden in the budget repair bill, the budget bill, and incorporated in actions taken by this new administration there is a clear pattern of pro-sprawl, anti-urban policies.
Governor Walker’s move to implement pro-sprawl policies has been quick and wide spread. Starting even before he took office, his opposition to the $800 million high-speed rail system cost the State of Wisconsin a service that would have benefited Milwaukee and Madison directly. Quickly this was followed up with dramatic changes at the Department of Natural Resources . It started with the appointment of Matt Maroney, the former Executive Director Metropolitan Builders Association of Greater Milwaukee, to the Deputy Secretary position, and was quickly followed up by the DNR announcing that it will be reducing air pollution, or rather the reporting of air pollution.
There’s more. There was the passing of legislation that removed small wetlands from protection so that these wetlands could be developed, often enough into parking lots. There is a proposed rule that would negatively impact wind turbine siting, while opening the door for more sprawling development. Every penny of funding for bike infrastructure was cut from the budget. Another measure alters the tax impacts for pre-fab home construction, which will essentially have Wisconsin exporting sprawl to neighboring states. Even the PACE program which would have protected our local food source, our farms, and slowed sprawl is to be eliminated.
The budget also dramatically speeds up freeway construction, while at the same time slashing local street funding and cutting transit. As predicted there will be a significant hit to transit systems statewide as there are deep funding cuts, the possibility of losing federal funds for some systems, a proposed dismantling of regional transit authorities, and the moving of transit funding out of the transportation fund into the general fund. If this laundry list of agenda items shows anything, it is that there is a pro-sprawl agenda coming straight from the Governor’s office.
It’s unfortunate, because Wisconsin had been on track to be better prepared for our global future. But it looks like as oil prices continue to rise, environmental impacts continue to pill up, and as the demands of the creative class go unanswered, Wisconsin will be unprepared and unwilling to move forward.